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Poetry and Quotes

The British love poetry because it's pretty much the only highbrow cultural activity you can engage in while seated on the lavatory - Guy Browning

"Poetry is always the best way to express feeling"

The life of man is but a span
A great poem by Philip to read
Restricted copyright applies

The Emergency Planning Officer.

Did it Happen? Was it true?
A telephone call out of the blue.
"Mr Campbell can I call and see you?"
We were on our own, no children at home.

In the build up to war, he came to our door
Middle aged , bland and matter of fact
He gave us some poorly photocopied tracts.
about nuclear war and what to do.
as a naval reserve officer ,one of the few.
you have a shot gun and a job to do
an order to kill..... We thought WHO?

We were surprised and struck dumb. it seemed like a dream
The government leaflet had come in the post.
with laughable instructions on how to prepare for nuclear war - Protect and Survive

Decades later a government minister let slip on radio 4 it was just a way to identify bodies not about staying alive.
The Government's gone mad, for me and you, there is a lot to do

Europe arose, Millions marched and protested many were arrested
There were rallies, blockades and invasions of bases, evictions and court cases.
We painted our faces and cut down the fences.

We needed no training ,our imaginations were amazing.
For our vision of peace we went to prision

Did the government listen ?

Thalia Campbell January 2013 ©

I heard a poem a bit like this on poetry please and could not sleep til I had put this on record



New Great Grandson born June 2011

New Great Grandson born June 2011

When I look deep into a babies eyes
I cannot even begin to think of original sin

Beautiful baby with blotting paper eyes,
soaking up the world, full of surprise.
Two year old girl so quizzical and wise,
her twin brother with calm trusting eyes
Emile aged five with mischevious defiant eyesa
s he vies for attention his siblings deny.

The dark co-op banner emblazoned in gold
declares "with the light of knowledge in their eyes"
proclaims the hopes and dreams of old.
Bush and Blair with their painted on eyes,
they may be clever but are they wise?
When did the light in their eyes die?
Is it their lies?
Those old black and white photos
where are their curious baby eyes?

Words are not needed
You can read peoples eyes
What a surprise
I do not see original sin
Babies are not born with the devil within.
How does he get there? who puts him in?
Original sin gives abuse an excuse.

Written over autumn to xmas 2006 - 8
Thalia Campbell ©

Campbell Grandchildren

Campbell Grandchildren
Poetry replaces my banner making and enlightens, cements and shares the past....Thalia

Photo Alix Jauncey

October Jewels in the Grass

A late butterfly flaps by
Shining sea, low sun on the cliff tops,
Fat dewdrops on the thin grassy tussocks
Early morning no wind, wet sandals and socks
dew drops winking as we walk,
changing, amber, cobalt, azure, on each stalk,
emerald, pink, flashing stars in the grass
and diamonds too as we tip toe, hesitate and pass.

Memories of Devon as a child and Pembroke as a pensioner
Thalia Campbell ©

Watercolour Thalia Campbell ©


You ripen in July, so good to eat , a big apple, floury yellowy green and sweet,
a heart shaped delicate apple with broad shoulders and narrow base.
We never knew your name, in our old Devon orchard your juice ran down our faces
After the war you grew with strawberries round your feet
Mother put out a box of your windfalls for the local school boys to eat.

In the 1970s you all had to go. The orchard was sold and concreted over for a bungalow
I was at college, getting married, teaching and having kids.
Never found an apple like you again, shop apples became boringly all the same.
Until I met a Canadian on our WILPF Peace Train
she invited me to Canada to talk and sew , banners about Peace and Justice and how we love nature so
I went to White Rock, Hornby Island,Vancouver, Squamish and Victoria more British than home.
On Salt Spring Island were the Graves of escaped slaves, a little old wooden school left as it was
and the grand wooden home for a marriage that was never fufilled .
His bride sailed from Britain when she saw how her life in the wilderness would be
she sailed back home as soon as could be.
In a garden in Vancouver well past July I found you again leaning over a wall
your fruit scattered all over the road and the lawn, with those brown blotting paper bruises I remembered so well. In time and space your taste cast a spell
The peace activist's family came from came from Totnes to Canada several generations ago.
A runaway marriage, a real upsetting of the social apple cart
of a servant girl with her Lord with an estate by the River Dart.,
Did they meet secretly under your tree? Did you last the voyage?
Were you a thown away pip or core, you their bit of Devon for ever more.

Thalia Campbell © March 2010


Spencer wrote a poem about his childhood memories of the family orchard
in Devon . ......I'm not like Spen used to be I don't mind who lifts my poems the more people
who read them the better

Duckie Dearie - I'm only 73

Don't you duckie and dearie me!
You can call me your sweetheart ! I'll choose if I'm that!
Duckie, dearie, luvvie and sweetie, what a curse
If it is used by official, councillor, doctor or nurse
My confidence in them sinks to an all time low
Bad past events swept under the carpet, future oh no!
In personal relationships, princess and petal are just as bad
Coercive and dehumanising and drives me mad

As a man when officials unasked use my Christian name
They are putting me down, a corporate power game.
My Christian name is for my friends and you're not one of those
Patronised, invisible, it's all the same…

My Special Girl makes my hair stand on end
Where does that road lead? What's round the next bend?

With affection not power Darling etc does less to offend
Communication is possible with respect and dignity
Whatever your sex, age, education or ethnicity

Thalia Campbell July 2009 ©

Inspired by visits to the hospital and the GP and telephone calls
to the Council and the Water Authority


Mother Nature

On radio and TV we hear and we see
with earthquakes and hurricanes mother nature's to blame.
with volcanoes and floods she is at it again.
plague and drought the same blame game
Is it subliminal Mysogyny or political policy?
Insurance companys are more fair .
It's an act of god from their lair
Female Mother nature gets all the blame.
God a male never brought to book,
Time after time he is let off the hook

Thalia Campbell February 2010 ©

(Imagine how far a smile can take you)


"Happiness is the only good...the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy
is to make others so" Robert Green Ingersoll, American Humanist,1876

link to website

"For what is life but a play in which everyone acts a part until the curtain comes down?" Erasmus 1511


Who controls the past controls the future:
who controls the present controls the past
George Orwell 1984

The weekend is my favourite time
When I can play, run and climb,
The breeze is warm
The sky is blue,
Upon the heath my kite I flew
It dips and whirls high in the sky.

Upon the water the yachts sail by
Each a winner in its owner's eye
Smiling faces, shouts of joy
Weekends are best for every boy.

Andrew Carrera - School magazine 1976

To Susan, Julia and Spencer

Childhood after the War

The countryside belonged to me
Footloose and fancy free.
No computer or TV

The countryside belonged to us
on foot or local bus.
We were four and made our own law
Out of doors all day, up and away
We climbed the trees and watched the bees

We could get in a mess without adults being mean,
not always oppressed to be tidy and clean.
We had old clothes to play in, patched and worn.
No need to worry about clothes being torn.
We could slide in the mud and roll in the grass,
get spiderwebs in our hair, exploring the past,
we learned fast
We could make our own judgements about what was safe
Look out for each other, keep secret our mistakes.

So few cars after the war
We went everywhere without a care,
With brown bread, cheese and a pear
Shorts and shirts, sandals, no socks
Our bare brown legs scratched and stung,
Nettle stings sorted out with docks

None of us had a watch
The sun and shadows were our clock

The local priest gave me the creeps
We learnt to be wise
We were flashed at but SO WHAT
We went where we should and where we should not
We came home for tea happy tired dusty and hot
Mother trusted us and never made a fuss.

We were like the wild flowers
With tousled heads
Not blooms in weeded garden beds

Thalia Campbell ©

Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce,
lend me thy grey mare
(All along, down along,
out along lea)
Fer I want to go to
Widecombe fair
Wi' Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer,
Peter Gurney, Peter Davy,
Dan'l Whiddon, 'Arry 'Awkes,
Ol' Uncle Tom Cobleigh an' all...
Ol' Uncle Tom Cobleigh an' all....

Cold War Arms Negotiator. 1980's

In a dusty lecture theatre with raked seating
One of a series of public meetings
He answered her question.We always put a joker in the pack.
To ensure no chance of agreement, put them on the rack.
What a hack
He told her we all do the same.It's all just a game
Has he no shame
She was a young student with long dark hair.
Through tears she shouted at him.How do you dare!
Can't you see you don't speak for me

It;'s not what we need .We've a world to feed
Please take a lead.

Her sobbing went on as she pushed away her wet hair.
She wiped her wet face and asked dont you care?
Not the respect he was used to with his silver hair.
He could only stare. Should he be there?

How could he be so wrong exposed to the throng.
The meeting stopped dead. Little more was said.
With anger and fear she sobs, she cries
She brushes the wet dark hair from her eyes

We stumbled outside in the late afternoon sun
He went off alone as he had begun
He fled home to a comfortable life, his unquestioning wife
His freedom from strife.
Back to the UN, His male dominated den, as it was then,
An individual blip but the game goes on

Thalia Campbell. Pembroke 2008 ©

He soon retired and a younger replacement told a prestigious meeting in a roundabout way that he was not proud of the work of the department during the cold war period.

Art Ian & Thalia Campbell ©

Art Ian & Thalia Campbell ©


Xmas Week
(A drinker's Lament)

On the Monday before Christmas
I had a chesty cough
Rang the Boss to tell him
Took the whole day off.

On the Tuesday before Christmas
The office party fell
Looked into the mirror
Decided I was well

On the Wednesday before Christmas
Life was just a blank
Rang the Boss who told me
What a lot I drank

On the Thursday before Christmas
Got my presents bought
Forgot half my relations
Spent more than I ought

On the Friday before Christmas
Went to Midnight Mass
But not before I'd got through
Fifteen pints of Bass

On the Saturday before Christmas
Drove round to the bar
Coming back much later
Overturned the car.....

Life is short and Bothersome: all we do is desire what we do not have
Jean de La Bruyere - 1688


From Studley to Cambridge, flat as far as the eye can see
In the July sunshine ploughed fields like a black velvet sheet.
Mauve and white potatoes , barley, wheat, fat hen in the beet.
Where is space for the wildflower, food for the bird and the bee?
A picnic at the road side, bathed in sticky sweet pesticide,
choking with streaming eyes as the giant machine roars by.

No more DDT, but the poisoned fields still feed you and me.
Rachel Carson with Silent Spring led the way, she had her say
Surreal green rye grass, creeping death to the meadow and wood,
and death to the riotious flowery hedges of my childhood.
Gardens weedkilled, paved and decked, wildlife severely checked
Carnivorous pets stalk our gardens, full of well fed energy
Bird alarm calls mistaken for songs joyous and free
Nestlings die before they learn to fly

On one day we filled in the forms for the RSPB
to let them know how many birds we could see.
The RSPB founded so long ago, by those with vision to see
birds are better wild and free in bush and tree
The caged song birds in the market place, those old ways ,
On mantelpieces dusty glass domes, those dead glass eyes, those old days
Stuffed birds and handsome feathers decorating hats ,
lifted in the breeze as fashionable women strutted with men in spats

Across oceans in Australia they studied and found ,
The more dogs around the less birds and wildlife abound
especially those which live near the ground
The carnivorous smells, noise and stress, wildlife sixty percent less.

A massacre around the warm Mediterrean sea
The crack and spit of guns clean the sky
of everything that can fly
a hoopoe glimpsed in a fig tree,
the soaring honey buzzard in the hot blue sky
only minutes, at most a few hours before they die.

The children in the schools care with graffitti on the bus shelter they cry
“It's your world in which we grow and we shall grow to hate you”
The birds don't belong to you. They are our birds too.
Say younger generations and other nations.

Thalia Campbell - August 2008 ©

In hommage to Gertrude M. Goldsmith & Florence Rainford who opened my eyes.



There's a fine line between Love and Hate

There's a fine line between Love and Hate
Love and hate are intimately linked within the human brain, both hate and love can result in similar acts of extreme behaviour, heroric and evil, hate is often seemingly irrational and can lead to aggresisve acts, it can be an all-consuming passion like love. Hate is often considered to be an evil passion that should, in a better world, be tamed, controlled and eradicated.
Scientists studying the physical nature of hate have found that some of the nervous circuits in the brain are the same as those that are used during the feeling for love - although love and hate appear to be polar oppostes. Professor Semir Zeki - UCL London

"One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life"
E M Forster 1939
Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness
Know how to give without hesitation,
How to lose without regret
How not to acquire meanness
(author unknown)


Save the planet by what you eat.
If you must eat meat it should be a treat.
Healthy for me healthy for you.
And a better world for our children too
Thalia Campbell 2009


( Often using the psuedonym Maurice Bird )

At Belfast Zoo - Uncle's Dream - Little Meadow - The Windmill - Beach Huts - Liverton Hill - The Mirror - Light - Pyres or Fires? - BSE Cows - Anthony - To a Musical Score - The Diver - The Plough - The Rocks of Time - Times deft Crawl - Branch Line Station - Revisited - Selborne - Last Traces First Signs - The Orchard - The Diver - The Pool Beyond - The Past - Shep - White Cliffs of Africa - Then cross the Road to Slapton Ley - Truths - Penny - The Cupboard - Chantal and the Fawn Jumper....


Edmund SPENSER (c. 1552 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet and Poet Laureate. Spenser is a controversial figure due to his zeal for the destruction of Irish culture and colonisation of Ireland, yet he is one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English
verse in its infancy.
Spenser is best known for The Faerie Queene
Spencer - mother named him after E Spenser..She was proud of reading The Faerie Queene and of reading all of Dickens. Dad registered him only a few hours after birth so either he or the Registrar could have made a mistake with the spelling on the birth certificate. Thalia

Spencer wrote a poignant poem about the White Cliffs at Beer, our Uncle Norman fought in Africa in WW2, which appears on previous pages

He produced a book of Poetry and Photographs

We are now in contact with Bird family cousins through this site ,
their great grandfather Joseph Newton emigrated to South Africa around 120 years ago -
Great to be in contact with Dennis , Patrick and extended family!

Link for section

Below an old postcard of Beer

Rear cover of book

Rear cover of book


" Organising a good demo is as stressful as organising a good wedding - but at least you don't have to invite your cousins ! "

Leave them in peace...

Leave them in peace...

What are Little Girls Made of ?
An English Nursery Rhyme which made me sad as a child

The more qualities you have from all humanity
The better will be your health and sanity

If you are frilly fluffy and pink
A sex role stereotype who does not think
Or a hunk and a chunk, rough and tough.
Superior and aggressive ..Are either enough?

Both gentle and strong is fine,
At the restaurant she can taste the wine
No one has to be boss , its an awful loss
To be equal is divine

A survey was done with GPs
Of people in their surgeries.
Their many patients were ranked,
Their sexual characteristics banked .

Is it nature or Nurture? We did not decide.
At a seminar we discussed and the result seemed a must.
aggressive, assertive, manipulative or a doormat ?
For all of us of both sexes only assertive will do
You have to be comfortable about who you are too .

Men who want to be women and the suffering they go through
What do our sex roles allow us to do?

The study found
The more healthy you'll be in body and mind
The more qualities you have from all humankind

This poem is the fall out from being an artist in residence at the
International Conference of Psychologists on Sex role stereo Typing in the 1970s

Thalia Campbell ©

Teach me to feel another's woe
To mind that hurt I see
That mercy I to others show
That mercy show to me
-Alexander Pope-


There is only one passion, the passion for happiness
Denis Diderot 1774

"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates


An old Milanese poem

An old Milanese poem

Thalia's trip to see the Queen
Download pdf for her poem
Ghosts at Their Own Memorial ©
July 2005

From dear friends

From dear friends


I once heard a paper read
by a learned statistician who said
(and proved it mathematically)
that most people who die
(even in time of war)
do so in bed.

Since then,
I rise at six in winter
and in the long, light days of summer
I rise at four or five.
You see, I want to stay alive
and the less time I spend in bed the better.

Late to bed and early to rise
reduces the chances of early demise.

James Robert Jump

All domestic objects tend to rise. After one hundred years our attics are all full and the hall is empty.


The love of liberty is the love of others, the love of power is the love of ourselves
William Hazlitt 1819


A cold Febuary Day 25 years on
The grim military fence gone , really gone!
Our familiar wild space, nine miles around the base
No longer ours, no longer ours

Our close womens friendships of years or hours
Those womens days, those womens ways
A world that could be for the world to see
The heat of our imaginations
Warm hearts, round smokey fires
The schisms and isms didn't bring us all down.

The Rainbow gates and police state
The price of fear cost our country dear
Earth bogs and police dogs
Military hierachies and military logs
Dancing on the silos, our days in the courts
All our love and support
Our womens land Yoko bought

Evictions, convictions, rain wind and snow
Caravans, tents and benders
We fought to the end - we would not go!
Soldiers full of doubt, saving to buy themselves out.

Fences are gone but men are back - what a surprise
Where women for peace once took a stand
Now a Gay rendevous for men before home to their wives
At dusk men in cars cruising past the garden of peace.

[ A poem conceived in an old cold camper van at the Green Gate on February 23rd 2006]

Thalia Campbell ©


If we do not have quiet in our minds,
outward comfort will do no more for us
than a golden slipper on a gouty foot.
John Bunyan

Gertrude and Lillian used to recite Thomas Hood's poems to the children - they knew them off by heart....

I REMEMBER, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon
Nor brought too long a day;
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.

I remember, I remember
The roses red and white,
The violets and the lily cups--
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,--
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then
That is so heavy now,
The summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow.

I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from Heaven
Than when I was a boy.

Thomas Hood

Link to a website to read more click

'Nearly all men can stand adversity,
but if you want to test a man's character,
give him power' - Abraham Lincoln

L'amour c'est comme le Tour de France
On attend longtemps et il passe vite......

Image Mike Insall
I vow to thee, my country - all earthly things above -
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love,
The love that asks no questions: the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the alter, the dearest and the best:
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago -
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know -
We may not count her armies: we may not see her King -
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering -
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

CECIL SPRING-RICE 1918 ( a month before his death)

'Jealousy is all the fun you think they had'.
Erica Jong

"The past is only over our shoulder and a heartbeat behind"

"Truth is beauty, and beauty truth and that is all in the world you need to know". Keats